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Mica scandal: Donegal people being 'treated like second-class citizens'

A man who was forced to demolish his house and move his family into a mobile home due to Mica say...
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

19.01 28 Sep 2021


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Mica scandal: Donegal people being 'treated like second-class citizens'


Michael Staines
Michael Staines

19.01 28 Sep 2021


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A man who was forced to demolish his house and move his family into a mobile home due to Mica says Donegal people are being treated like second-class citizens.

The Housing Minister is tomorrow meeting with the Mica Working Group before submitting his proposals for dealing with the crisis to Cabinet.

Up to 7,000 homes in Donegal, Mayo and Sligo are thought to have been built using defective blocks that are crumbling due to high levels of the mineral Mica.

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The redress scheme established in January 2020 offers homeowners 90% of the cost of repairs; however, campaign groups are calling for that to be increased to 100%.

In around one-third of cases, the houses will need to be demolished and rebuilt and the total cost is expected to be well over €1bn.

Mica scandal: Donegal people being 'treated like second-class citizens'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Gary Breslin said he had to move his family out of their home earlier this year for their own safety.

“We had to get out,” he said.

“There were cracks in every room and there was damp in my wee girl’s room and we had to put her on two inhalers because she couldn’t sleep at night – she couldn’t breathe.

“Then my wife and I were lying in bed and we heard the banging and the cracking. We didn’t know what it was, we thought there was somebody outside, but it was the house itself starting to move and shift.”

Mica

He said the house was finished in 2007 and he first noticed the cracks appearing in 2014.

“They were only hairline cracks at the start but towards the end then they were getting very big,” he said.

“You could pick away at the house yourself and towards the last month, before we actually demolished it, I saw in one corner, it wasn’t cracking anymore, it was starting to slide – so you could see the corners moving.

“We thought there is a five-tonne roof sitting on top of this with slabs and everything and we are in there and we just don’t feel safe. We didn’t feel safe so we had to get out.”

Redress

He said the soaring cost of labour and materials mean the family can’t afford to pay the 10% under the current scheme.

They also can’t afford to pay rent alongside their mortgage and have spent the last two months living in a mobile home on the property.

He said asking people affected by Mica to fork out 10% is treating them like second-hand citizens when pyrite-affected homeowners in Dublin were offered 100% redress.

“They are talking now about taxpayers’ money, but it was taxpayers that bailed out the banks and it was never brought up,” he said.

“It was taxpayers’ money that bailed out the 100% for the pyrite and nobody was asked about it but now it sems like Donegal is looking for 100% and seemingly now it is taxpayers’ money and we are not the same as the rest of the country.

“It doesn’t sound like we are part of the country anymore. Like if we want it, we have to do it ourselves. I don’t see why we are second class citizens at the end of the day.”

The Housing Minister has previously said that Banks and insurance companies will be asked to contribute to the mica and pyrite redress schemes.

The mica redress scheme has already cost the taxpayer more than €1bn, while the pyrite scheme has cost around €160m.

You can listen back here:

Mica scandal: Donegal people being 'treated like second-class citizens'

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